A proposed change in federal electoral boundaries could have a big impact on Summerland.
The redrawn lines would cut Summerland off from Penticton and the rest of the South Okanagan. Summerland would be the southernmost point in a new riding of Central Okanagan-Coquihalla which would include Kelowna.
Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino said the change would be “quite a shocking difference.”
“This affects Summerland hugely,” she said at last week’s municipal council meeting.
“We do all our business with Penticton,” noting links with governing organizations such as Penticton Regional Hospital and Okanagan Skaha School District 67 as well as commerce.
She said she understands how such boundary proposals come about, when people unfamiliar with the area try to divide it up by population.
“People sit down and look at a map.”
Summerland council has directed its staff to prepare a written notice to advise the B.C. Federal Boundaries Commission that council is not in favour of the changes in the proposed boundaries and electoral districts. The notice also says the mayor and council would like to participate in the commission’s public hearing set for Oct. 9 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
“I think we need to be there and I think we need to voice our concerns that our citizens will not be well served.”
The new boundary suggestions are made every 10 years by electoral commissions across Canada. The new ridings would change the political landscape of the Southern Interior for a 2015 election.
Dan Albas, who lives in Penticton and currently represents Okanagan-Coquihalla, calls the proposal “very interesting,” but is concerned about the Summerland split from Penticton. Albas noted too that the changes aren’t final, and still subject to a public comment period this fall before a final proposal is sent to Parliament.
John Hall, a B.C. Court of Appeal justice who headed the three-member commission, encouraged people to tell him what they think.
“A lot of the Interior stuff is certainly not set in stone, because those are big ridings, territorially, and it will be interesting to hear what people have to say,” Hall said.
. Anyone wishing to speak at the Oct. 9 hearing must register by Aug. 30. Registration can be done online or by mail. For more information visit firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1-855-747-7236.